Sanctity and sanity under threat when reality TV messes with matrimony

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Days that are set aside for special commemorations can promote thoughts about how those events may relate to other people who are sharing similar circumstances.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Contemplating the anniversaries of those who have died can prompt thoughts about others who have suffered similar losses, perhaps more recently than the one which we are remembering.

Last month’s centenary of the Gallipoli landing invoked memories of those we have known who have suffered or died as a result of military involvement wherever they may have served. One writer who produced a critical comment on what he saw as increasing aspects of the commercialisation of AnzacDay said: “Commemoration can be whatever you want it to be.”

That also relates to events which have brought happiness into our lives, which is the case on this Sunday as I join with my wife to celebrate our marriage anniversary.

It isn’t marking one of those big numbers that sometimes see people coming together to recall our special day – although, as my late mother-in-law once wisely said: “Some wedding guests remember your first anniversary but after that you’re pretty much on your own.”

Celebrations this year also will be marked by thoughts of how the sanctity of traditional marriage is under attack on yet another front.

Television is cashing in again on what appears to be the ever-willing excitement of those among its audiences to tune in and embrace a love affair that ends with marriage but in the process, the latest attempt will drag the institution through the dirt.

A young man will be offered the chance to select his partner from among a number of women who apparently are looking for love, quite possibly in the wrong place – through yet another degrading example of so-called reality TV.

He will then be able to “marry” the object of his attraction in the closing episode of the series, versions of which have been aired with success in a number of other countries.

Those foreign lands may have allowed the couples officially to simply tie the knot but government legislation in Australia provides protection against such instant marriages.

The Marriage Act of 1961 which states that marriage “is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” also requires a formal period of Notice of Intended Marriage must be lodged at least one month and one day before such a union may be permitted to be sealed.

This important legislation shoots down opportunities for would-be young lovers to knock on the doors of marriage celebrants seeking quickie weddings as was the case for actors playing roles of approaching justices of the peace for instant unions in older American movies.

When reports of the latest attempt to degrade marriage emerged, a correspondent to a newspaper readers’ forum lamented the lack of such quality scripted moments being captured on our local small screens.

“I remember a time when Australian produced TV entertainment that had writers and actors and was actually worth watching” was possibly a line resonating with those working in the production industry.

They voiced concerns earlier this year that quality programs were being replaced by offerings of the “reality” genre but, although this program which assaults marriage was born of that school, sensible legislation prevents effective unions taking place instantly before the cameras.

It’s to be hoped that viewers will appreciate the impediments to such instant marriages.

Another attack on an aspect of the sanctity of marriage came out of North America some time ago with reports that women wanted to “trash” their wedding dresses.

This related to being photographed in situations where expensive dresses would be ruined, and one case sadly resulted in a woman drowning after she was pictured swimming in a lake.

Her friends said it was all about having fun, just as those involved in the program promising instant marriage may think the idea is simply about having a good time.

But, it debases an institution which is important to me and to all who are able to embrace and celebrate it properly – on anniversaries and every day we are blessed to spend together.